35mm Presentation with introduction by musician and writer Stephen Mallinder (Wrangler, Cabaret Voltaire).
An entomologist travels to remote sand dunes inspecting insects. When he misses the last bus back, the villagers take him to a widow’s hut to stay the night. In the morning he discovers he is trapped. Unable to escape, he joins her, shovelling sand in perpetuity. A take on the myth of Sisyphus, Woman of the Dunes speaks to the futility of modern-day work and personal autonomy that preoccupied many filmmakers of this era. The mesmerising cinematography frames the alien landscape as a subtle hell whilst also zoning in on the literal minutiae of grains of sand and pores in the skin in a way that becomes hypnotically intense. Thematically, the modern world of reason and science is pitted against wild nature and the erotic – both here have an existential quality. An unsettling experimental score underlines the sense of claustrophobia and discomfort. An original, trippy, heady masterpiece that’s hard to shake off.
Screening as part of Japan 2020: Over 100 years of Japanese Cinema, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. bfijapan.co.uk